Most of the coaching requests that I receive revolve around emotional intelligence: clients are described as lacking self-awareness, or are unable to control their impulses, or don’t empathize with others. But what if this diagnosis is only half correct: What if many leadership deficiencies are rooted in shortcomings of critical thinking? According to the Foundation of Critical Thinking there are three components:
I hate to say it, but several people I work with have annoying habits. Some interrupt too much, some don’t say what’s really on their minds, some are so detail-oriented they make my teeth ache. But I too inflict an annoying habit on others: I often indirectly ask for recognition. This ‘addiction to approval’ is a habit I’d like to break. What’s wrong with seeking approval? Not much if done in small doses, but I’ve become dependent. Do I really need to ask my wife to praise me for taking the trashcans to the curb? Yes. So with the idea that I am not the only person on earth cursed with this affliction, I herein submit my self-improvement process. Perhaps you or others might benefit from my efforts: I’ve tried unsuccessfully to stop asking for recognition before, so I sought help from Carrie, one of my coaching colleagues. Her challenging questions and insights yielded surprising results.
Fast Company magazine recently featured 50 companies they ranked as most innovative. My attention was not drawn to the super-cool technology start-ups, but to some old-line companies that successfully reinvented themselves. I wondered: Are the factors that lead to corporate transformation similar to the factors that contribute to the reinvention of individuals?
A client of mine is struggling to remain competitive in an industry where smaller, more agile competitors are nibbling away at their market share. They believe that their organizational culture needs to change in order to be successful. In a recent phone call with the company’s top leaders I asked who was responsible for creating the organization’s culture. Crickets. Finally, the head of strategy said, “To be honest, we feel more like custodians of the culture than the creators.” Someone else on the call piped in, “Actually, we are more culture complainers than culture creators!” That didn’t sound good.
Have you ever gotten in your car, driven to work, found a parking spot, sat at your desk, and wondered: How did I get here? If you ever experienced this, you were probably on automatic pilot, unconscious of what you were doing because you do it so often. Now let’s say you got in your car, started to drive, and suddenly a detour took you far out of your way. What happened then? Perhaps you began to worry about missing an important morning meeting. Probably, you drove with heightened awareness, your grip tightening on the steering wheel. And maybe you arrived at the office grouchy, immediately complaining to your co-workers about those so-and-sos who messed up traffic during rush hour.
I feel like I’m losing my mind from the mega-buzz surrounding mindfulness lately. Many companies, including Google and Target, are investing in mindfulness training for their employees. The National Institute of Health is pouring millions to research the effect of mindfulness on depression, obesity, and even the common cold. Even the journal American Psychologist devoted its most recent special issue to the emergence of mindfulness in psychological science. The few of us uninitiated souls may wonder what this is all about, and even wonder what mindfulness is. Well here it is: Mindfulness is any practice used to focus on an object, such as one’s breath or a point in space, and then become aware when one’s mind has wandered, and then bring awareness back to the object. In other words: meditation.